Top 10 tips for protecting your PC in hot weather

How to keep computers safe from the effects of a heatwave
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

It's not just humans that are starting to suffer in the hot weather. Soaring temperatures are already creating an epidemic of frazzled hard drives, and more PCs are likely to fall victim to lightning strikes and flooding in the storms expected later this week.

With the onset of the hot weather, data-recovery company Ontrack said it is on its way to its busiest summer ever. According to the company's business development manager, Phil Bridge: "We do get a definite peak in jobs over the summer every year."

Heat and humidity are a big factor in the rise in demand for data recovery but Bridge said that the increase in mobile working in the summer is another factor, as workers take their laptops out to enjoy the sunshine. "We see laptops that are filled with sand and seawater," he said.

On top of this, IT managers — like everyone else — are on their holidays, and that means data is less likely to be backed up as conscientiously as it is when they are in the office.

When staff get back to the office, the danger for PCs isn't over. Bridge warns that rebooting a machine after it has had a long rest could be just enough to send the hard drive over the edge. And the storms that follow hot weather hold dangers for hardware too — power surges, floods and lightning strikes can all send PCs to the big server room in the sky.

Ontrack has come up with 10 top tips to keep your systems running happily through the heat.

  1. Keep computers in a cool, dry area to prevent overheating
  2. Don't have too many computers running off one power supply, via an extension cable. If the power socket is affected by a power surge, then all the machines could suffer damage
  3. Install a surge protector between the power socket and the computer's power cable. Some brands offer guaranteed lightning protection
  4. Small businesses with networks should get surge protectors to stop power spikes normally transmitted through network cables
  5. At least once per year users should inspect power protection devices to make sure they are functioning properly
  6. Ensure IT equipment has its own power circuit, so it isn't sharing the power with air conditioners, fans and/or other ancillary devices.
  7. Turn off and disconnect the power cord during an electrical storm
  8. Turn off power during a blackout. When power is restored after a blackout, the signal can initially be inconsistent, which can cause damage
  9. High voltages can enter the computer through a phone line connected to the modem. To protect your computer during electrical storms, unplug the telephone line from the modem jack or use a telephone line surge suppressor
  10. Businesses with network servers should invest in some form of uninterruptible power supply

What are your tips for coping with the heatwave? We would love to hear from you — and publish the better suggestions — especially if you are a SME operating without air-conditioning. Contact us using the Talkback option at the bottom of the page.

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